Can I Get Out of My Medicare Advantage Plan?

Many people, once they sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, ask this question. While Medicare Advantage plans seem appealing at the outset, with their lower premiums, there are some definite “disadvantages”. Although they can be the right choice for some people, some of the disadvantages, such as lack of doctor choice, out of pocket costs, and constant plan changes, make these plans frustrating for some. And, when that happens, some people ask the question: “When can I get out of my Medicare Advantage plan?”

The answer to this question is not as simple as you may think it would be. With Medicare Supplement plans and most other types of insurance, you can simply cancel the plan when you no longer want or need it. However, with Medicare Advantage, it’s not that simple. These plans work on a calendar-year basis, so once you’re in, you’re typically in for the year.

That said, Medicare has established a new Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP). This period runs from January 1, 2011 to February 14, 2011. During this period, you can NOT enroll in a new Medicare Advantage plan (unless you fall into a special set of circumstances); however, you can disenroll from your current Advantage plan. After disenrolling, you can return to “original” Medicare. Then, you have the option of adding a Medicare Supplement plan to supplement your Medicare coverage.

Medicare Supplement plans, contrary to Medicare Advantage plans which replace Medicare, fill in the “gaps” in Medicare coverage. With Medicare Supplement, you pay the monthly premium; then, if you have the top level plan (Plan F), you don’t have any co-pays, deductible or coinsurance to pay out of your pocket. There are also some new Medicare Supplement plans, including Plan N. Plan N is lower-priced (often similarly priced with some of the Advantage plans) and it is very similar to the more comprehensive plans at the hospital. The difference is that you have a small $20 co-pay at the doctor’s office and a $50 co-pay at the emergency room. Plus, you do have to meet the Medicare Part B deductible, which is $162/year.

If you have questions about this new Medicare Advantage disenrollment period or want to evaluate what options are available to you if/when you DO leave your Advantage plan, I recommend (whether it’s us or someone else) speaking to an independent brokerage. They can explain the ramifications of whatever choices you are considering, to ensure that you make the choice that is right for you. You can contact us at 877.506.3378 or at Medicare Supplement quote.

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplemental Plan N – A Great Alternative to Being Declined Coverage

Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement Plan N is a “Guaranteed Issue” plan. What this means is that they offer this plan on a no health questions asked basis to all who apply. This is one of the few plans offered like this, nationwide. In some states, there are special times of the year or other special circumstances that allow everyone an open enrollment period with no health questions asked.

But, generally speaking, you do have to qualify medically when you sign up for a Medicare supplement plan. In the case of Mutual of Omaha’s Plan N, though, this is not the case.

This has truly been a benefit for those who have been previously unable to get coverage. Those who have health problems ongoing or have a history of health problems generally get declined by Medicare Supplement plans, when they apply. This allows them an option, in which they will not get declined.

Plan N is a new Medicare Supplement plan – it began on June 1, 2010. It has been successful as an appealing plan to those who are losing, or leaving, Medicare Advantage plans, which have encountered significant cuts for 2011, in most areas. Plan N does have a $20 doctor’s office co-pay, as well as a $50 emergency room co-pay. Additionally, it does not cover the Medicare Part B deductible of $162/year. That said, it still covers the 20% not covered by Medicare at the hospital so that, between Medicare and your supplement plan, you have little to no cost for hospital visits, or stays.

We believe Plan N, which is offered at an even lower price point than other supplement plans, is a great alternative to those who cannot get other coverage, have been declined or are simply paying too much for an overpriced Plan F. Plan N allows significant premium savings (as much as 50-60% lower than Plan F prices) while still giving you the hospital coverage and doctor flexibility that you need from your supplement plan.

If you want a customized quote, or if we can assist in providing additional Plan N information, please let us know. You can reach us at toll-free 877.506.3378 or request a Medicare Supplement quote. Alternatively, you can visit our Mutual of Omaha Medicare Supplement page for more information about this company and their plans.

FOUR COMMON MYTHS ABOUT MEDICARE / MEDIGAP PLANS

In talking to hundreds of folks each week who are on Medicare from around the country, we hear some pretty “wild” things. Whether given the wrong information by news media, an unscrupulous or misinformed agent, or just assuming something to be true that is not, there is a lot of misinformation about Medicare and Medigap plans. Here are a few we’ve heard recently that fall on the “MYTH” side of the TRUTH vs. MYTH divide.

  1. You can only change Medigap plans once a year, during the end-of-year enrollment period.
    This, as many of you already know, is false. Medigap plans have NO enrollment/disenrollment restrictions. The reason many people believe this is twofold. One, there IS an enrollment period for Part D prescription drug plans, which runs from November 15-December 31 each year. Also, there is an onslaught of marketing (mailings, TV ads, etc) for Medicare Advantage plans during the end-of-year enrollment period because you can only change those plans from Nov. 15-March 31. For Medigap plans, however, you can change at any time, as long as you meet a company’s underwriting requirements (which vary from company to company).
  2. Company ‘X’ pays it’s claims better than Company ‘Y’.
    Medigap claims are paid through Medicare’s national “crossover” system, which is handled directly through Medicare. This is an automated process that does not at all resemble the way that traditional health insurance (under-65) claims are paid. I have NEVER had a complaint or problem with a company not paying a claim due to this standardization of plans and automation of the system. Even if a company were to completely go out of business, claims are backed up by the state insurance reserve programs.
  3. Some of my doctors do not take certain Medigap plans.
    With Medigap plans, all doctors that take Medicare are required to take Medigap plans. What some doctors do not take, and are not taking in increasing numbers, is the Medicare Advantage plans. However, with a Medigap plan, you can see any doctor/hopsital nationwide that takes Medicare.
  4. Company ‘X’s rates do not go up over time – they stay the same.
    This is something that many agents use in a dishonest way. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is. While this would certainly make our job easier, it’s just not true. Medigap insurance, just like auto insurance or the price of eggs, goes up over time. Different companies use different criteria to change rates, but there are not any plans that do not go up in price over time.

Does Medicare Cover Preventive Care?

Here is a bullet-point list of some of the preventive care that Medicare covers (most people think Medicare doesn’t cover preventive care at all – not true):

– “Welcome to Medicare” physical (within 1st 6 mos.)

– Cardiovascular screening (once every 5 years)

– Mammograms (once a year)

– Cervical screening (once every 2 years)

– Prostate screening (once every year)

– Colorectal screening (varies depending on type and history)

– Glaucoma tests (once every year)

– Shots (varies)

– Bone density tests (once every 2 years)
and more!

See Medicare’s booklet on the topic here: www.medicare.gov/
Publications/Pubs/pdf/10110.pdf

What Does Medicare Cover – The Parts of Medicare and What They Cover

This is typically the first question someone asks when they begin the process of comparing plan options prior to their 65th birthday (or Medicare start date). It is, in its simplest form, the most important base knowledge that you must have to compare plan options in an educated way. This will, in layman’s terms, explain the parts of Medicare and what they cover.

Medicare Part A

What It Covers: Medicare Part A is the most basic part of Medicare. It covers medically necessary hospital, skilled nursing facility, home health and hospice care. If you have Medicare Part A, it covers 80% at the hospital/skilled nursing facility.

Medicare Part A does have a deductible that must be met before the coverage starts. This deductible, for the year 2010, is $1,100.

How to Get It: You pay into the Medicare system in your working years, and that qualifies you for Medicare Part A. There is no additional premium. You get Part A automatically when you either go on Medicare disability (prior to age 65) or when you turn age 65. It starts the first day of the month in which you turn 65.

Medicare Part B

What It Covers: Medicare Part B is an optional part of Medicare. It is the part of Medicare that covers doctor’s visits, doctor’s services, outpatient services, laboratory work, and medical equipment. In order to have full coverage, you have to have both parts A & B. But you are not automatically signed up for B, you have the option of declining it.

How to Get It: As mentioned, Part B is optional. You have the option of declining it when your Medicare starts, although in most situations, you are sent a Medicare card showing effective dates for Parts A & B, and you must notify Medicare if you do not want Part B. Part B, contrary to Part A, does have a monthly premium of $96-110/month depending on income and when you turned 65. Most people pay this as a deduction from the social security checks.

Medicare Part C

What It Covers: Medicare Part C is a privatized version of Medicare called Medicare Advantage. When you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you opt out of the Government’s Medicare coverage and elect to be covered entirely by the private company. These plans vary greatly in their coverage; however, most plans have in common the coverage of doctor/hospital charges, lab work, outpatient, some preventive care (varies greatly) and prescription drugs (optional).

How to Get It: To get a Medicare Advantage plan, you have to sign up through the private company’s agent or directly through the private company itself. You can only do so during designated enrollment periods. Generally speaking, these are when you first turn 65 (three months on either side of your birth month), November 15-December 31 each year, and/or other special enrollment periods such as losing employer coverage, moving to a new state, etc.

Medicare Part D

What It Covers: Medicare Part D covers prescription drugs. These plans are administered through private companies but approved by Medicare. The coverage on the plans varies greatly, and it is essential to compare the details of the plan formularies before choosing one.

How to Get It: Like Part C, you can get these plans through the private company’s agents or directly through the private company. You can only do so during the same enrollment periods as mentioned above.

Medigap Plans

What It Covers: Medigap plans are designed to fill in the “gaps” in Medicare A & B. The plan coverage is standardized from company to company so you can easily compare “apples to apples”.

How to Get It: You must have Medicare A & B to sign up for a Medigap plan. You can sign up for one through the company directly or through an agent. Medicare-Supplement-Comparison is a leading independent agency that works with Medigap (and Parts C & D). If you would like a rate quote comparison of all the options in your area, please visit Medicare Supplement quote.

Getting a Medicare Supplement comparison is an easy way to compare your options for Medicare Advantage, Part D and Medigap plans. Most seniors agree that Medicare, by itself, is not sufficient coverage, and supplementing that is a necessity. If you have any questions about this information, please contact us on our medigap quotes page or at 877.506.3378.

Medicare Payments – Congress Passes Legislation to Postpone Medicare Doctor Cuts

Congress passed legislation today, which President Obama later signed, that spared doctors seeing Medicare patients from a projected 21% fee cut. This bill did not eliminate this proposal completely but rather postponed a decision on it for 6 months (atleast until November). By that time, or at that time, lawmakers propose to work on a more permanent solution that will be lasting.

This bill was passed in a hurry and signed right away by the President because, earlier this week, Medicare officials announced that claims that had already been received would be processed at the lower fees rates. This caused a quick and sudden stir, as well as quick movement by the legislators to get the bill made into law.

Originally, this $6.5 billion bill had been part of a larger bill, which dealt with unemployment subsidies and money to the states to assist in avoiding layoffs. However, Republicans had been blocking this bill because of the cost. Once the Medicare portion of the bill was stripped out to its stand-alone version, however, it was quickly passed.

Many seniors, possibly rightfully so, are worried about accessibility to doctors if a physician fee cut does go through, fearing that this will cause doctors to not accept Medicare patients. However, their fears of this, like the decision on the physician fee cut, can be postponed for a few more months.

Medicare Supplement Comparison is a leading resource for Medicare news and information, as well as Medicare Supplement quotes. MSC.com is presented by Secure Medicare Solutions, a Medicare insurance brokerage that works with numerous insurance companies so that you can compare multiple options in one centralized place.

Medicare Supplement Quotes – The RIGHT Way to “Shop” for a Medicare Supplement Online

To get Medicare Supplement quotes from a variety of companies, shopping for a Medicare Supplement plan online is the wave of the future. In fact, it’s the wave of right now, with ever-increasing numbers of Medicare-age individuals going online for quotes and information. Comparing plans this way is easy to do because you can do it in the comfort of your own home and on your own time. This does not require you to make hasty decisions or feel pressured by a salesperson.

While comparing Medigap options, doing it this way is certainly advisable; however, there are a few things to remember in order to make sure that you make an informed, thorough decision.

  1. First and foremost, keep in mind that, regardless of who you purchase a supplement from, the price is going to be the same. Brokers/agents cannot charge you an additional fee for using them. Likewise, the insurance company does not charge more if you go directly through the company. With this in mind, you can compare without the fear that you are paying more than you should be for a plan.
  2. Plans are completely standardized so there is no difference from one company to another on a “like” plan. This makes it easy to compare “apples to apples”, so to speak. For example, a Plan F with Mutual of Omaha is the exact same as a Plan F with AARP (United Healthcare). And, those Plan F’s are the exact same as Plan F’s from Blue Cross or anyone else you are comparing. With that in mind, price is the primary comparison point, along with the reputation of the company.
  3. There are some distinct advantages to using a brokerage to compare your options. As previously mentioned, rates are the same regardless of whether you have an agent or not. With that in mind, there are some clear-cut advantages to having an agent versus not having one. First of all, an agent can help you compare options from all of the companies that do plans for your area. Secondly, an agent is a ready reference if you have any questions about the application process or your policy (after it is in effect). Third and possibly most important, an agent can help you re-evaluate your options at a later time if you are ever dissatisfied with your current policy. If you sign up directly with the company, they obviously have no incentive to assist you in comparing other options like an agent does.

Overall, comparing your options for a Medicare Supplement plan is easy to do and should not be something that you allow to overwhelm or intimidate you. There are plenty of options and resources online that can assist you in this process, and you should certainly be with an agency/brokerage and insurance company that you personally feel completely comfortable with.

ABOUT US
Medicare-Supplement-Comparison.com is a leading, independent brokerage agency that works exclusively with Medicare insurance. We allow you to compare quotes by email for all of the companies in your area so that you can make an informed decision that you will feel completely comfortable with. Then, after you are enrolled, we provide additional value-added services that you just can’t get in other places. For a Medicare Supplement quote comparison by email, visit: Medicare Supplement Quotes. Or, you can call us at 877.506.3378.

Medicare Supplement Plans – Three Little-Known Ways to Save Money

Many people are talking about saving money these days. It is a primary topic of discussion. Prices for some things seem set in stone, though, as if there is no way to reduce your costs. Most seniors assume that Medicare Supplement plans fall into the “set in stone” category; however, that is not necessarily the case, as there are several significant ways to save money on your Medigap plans.

Below, we have listed three way to save money on your Medigap insurance that many people may not recognize or know about:

  1. Household (husband-wife) Discount – This is probably the easiest way to save money – to have the same plan as your spouse. Not all companies offer this, but the majority of competitively-priced companies do. It is an incentive to keep all of your business (both you and your spouse) with the same company. If you ARE with the same company and are NOT receiving this discount, you should ask your current company about it – or, possibly, find a new company that would be less expensive and/or offer this discount.
  2. Payment Mode Discount – Companies handle this is different ways. Many are less expensive when you pay monthly by bank draft; however, some are still less expensive if you pay annually or semi-annually. Regardless, this is something to look into.
  3. Early Enrollment Discount – A few companies offer an early enrollment discount for those who enroll in their plan within a certain time period after turning 65. This discount usually is reduced over time; however, when enrolling at or near age 65, the discount can make one company’s rates better than another.

Keep in mind that the actual rate for Medicare Supplement plans is set. One agent or broker cannot offer a better rate than another. However, these company-offered discounts can affect the rates a good bit and make rates with one company more competitive than another.

If you are not getting all, or any, of these discounts and you feel like you should qualify, we recommend comparing your coverage to see if there is another company that offers the discounts and would be more advantageous to you financially.

Garrett recommends that you look into these three ways to save money on your Medicare Supplement plan. Even if it doesn’t work out for you, and you are not able to save any money, you don’t have anything to lose. Best case scenario, you find several ways to reduce your premium with either your current company or with another, more advantageous company.

Medigap Insurance Plans – The Three Least Important Things About Choosing a Plan

Everyone wants to talk about what is important about choosing a Medigap insurance plan, and reasonably so. However, one thing that is not often discussed is the numerous things that are NOT important when comparing and choosing a Medigap plan.

Below, we have listed three of the least important things to consider when choosing a Medigap plan. Unscrupulous or uninformed agents sometimes emphasize the importance of these three factors to serve their own purposes; however, the three following factors are simply not important when it comes to comparing Medicare supplement plans:

  1. First and foremost, the “name recognition” of the company is not important.
    Medicare supplements must be accepted anywhere that takes Medicare. For this reason, an AARP plan is not better than a Sentinel Life plan etc. As long as it is a Medigap plan, the plan can be used anywhere that takes Medicare so there is no reason to base a decision on whether a company has “pretty commericals” or, worse yet, because you had them through your employer and they “pay good” (see #3 below!).
  2. Secondly, the coverage the company offers is a non-factor (since all coverage is standardized).
    This is simply not a factor because Medigap plans are standardized. Do not allow anyone to confuse you when talking about both Medicare Supplement plans and Medicare Advantage plans within the same conversation. The two are completely separate and there is no way of equally comparing them to one another. Medigap plans, however, compare very easily to one another because of this standardization of coverage. A Plan ‘F’ with one company is the EXACT same as a Plan ‘F’ with another company.
  3. Lastly, the claims process of the company is not a variable in the Medigap plans decision.
    Claims, for Medigap plans, are all filed automatically through the Medicare “crossover” system, so there is no variability in this from company to company. Do NOT make the mistake of letting someone tell you that one company pays its claims and another one does not. That is simply not true. If you want to validate this or check into it further, call Medicare directly, and they will tell you the same thing.

To find out more information and see a rate quote comparison for your age and zip code, visit Medicare supplement comparison.

Medicare Supplement Comparison – A Vital Part of Your Financial Plan

Comparing Medicare Supplements is a vital part of your sound financial planning. Not doing so can lead to hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars per year in unneccessary insurance expenses.

Studies show that 88% of those on Medicare agree in the need for something in addition to traditional, “original” Medicare insurance. This is where Medicare Supplement insurance comes in. It fills in the “gaps” in “original” Medicare.

If you have a Medicare Supplement now, comparing Medicare Supplement quotes is easy to do. Since plans are Federally-standardized, you can compare “like” coverage to ensure that you will have equal coverage. From that point, you should consider, primarily, the companies with the most competitive rates for your age and zip code. Rate is the primary decision point since coverage is equal.

If you do NOT have a Medicare Supplement currently, the first step is deciding which of the standardized plans would be the best fit for you. You can view the standardized plans chart at: https://www.medicare-supplement-comparison.com. Once you elect a plan, you should get quotes for your age and zip code and select a company that has competitive rates on the plan that you have chosen.

Even though coverage is standardized, rates vary greatly from area to area and from company to company. Comparing Medigap quotes and plans annually to ensure that you are not paying too much for your current plan is essential.